50 Years Ago: More production, more unemployment
Most newspapers are advocating the cutting of governmental administrative expenditure and continually criticise government schemes at home and abroad. These papers say the government must economise so as to relieve the taxes upon the merchants, landlords, and so on . Mr. Lloyd George has soon taken the hint and delivered his cheese-paring speech to the Chambers of Commerce. It does not require a Solomon to see that the world’s markets are glutted — the ‘produce more’ stunt has come to fruition. The next step to producing more is to consume less — and that is quite logical in a system of wealth production which belongs to the few in society.
What a vicious circle! Terrible war, awful armistice, horrible peace! Whatever is claimed to be the solution — whether it is producing more, consuming less, economising, going dry, being wet, praying long or short, tariff on goods, profit-sharing, nationalisation — all, all lead to poverty in the midst of plenty.
A while ago a datum line was fixed for the miners, and our bosses made out that it was imperative that at least the miners should turn out so much coal, so that industry generally may flourish and make for good trade. But in spite of the miners producing more than the desired quantity, the discharging of workers has been continuous and it has been computed that there are 1,500,000 workers unemployed. Really if the situation were not so serious it would be comical to note the ‘directive ability’ of those who strive to maintain capitalist conditions.
‘Produce more’ was the cry; ‘the workers are not producing enough’ — and then thousands are discharged so that they can produce nothing.
(From an article The Slump by S. W. in the Socialist Standard, March 1921).